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tv   AB Cs World News With Charles Gibson  ABC  September 2, 2009 6:30pm-6:45pm EDT

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welcome to "world news." tonight, sales job. after a summer of angst and anger, the president prepares to fight back on health care reform. drug bust. the world's largest drug maker will pay the largest fine ever for fraudulent marketing practices. angeles ashes. firefighters are gaining on the wildfire that ravaged the foothills outside los angeles. say cheese. need a loan? try the bank that allows producers to put up pricey parmesan cheese as principle lateral. and big salaries paid to kra
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eos of big banks. the very ones that got big bucks eos of big banks. the very ones that got big bucks from taxpayers. captions paid for by abc, inc. good evening. ask most people, and they're likely to say they're sorry that summer is ending. but president obama may be among the few glad to see it in the rear view. he hoped to use the august congressional recess to build momentum for health care reform. instead, the issue became the subject of bitter debate, and polls show support is fading. so, today, the announcement the president will go before congress a week from today to try to jump start the effort. here's jake tapper. >> reporter: before departing for camp david, the president agreed to address congress, in what might be seen as an acknowledgement that he's lost ground in the health care reform fight. arguments drowned out by angry opponents. >> stay out of my business. >> reporter: he will, aides say, try to regain control of the
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discussion. >> we're at a point in this debate, we've been talking. all the ideas are on the table. we have to pull the stands together and deliver an overall vision of where to go. >> reporter: congressional democrats have been practically pleading for the president to be more specific, settling disagreements such as issues of how to pay for the bill and if it should include a government-run option. david axelrod said the president would be more specific about what should be in the bill, beyond rearticulating principles. >> i think that people will have a very clear sense of his vision for how to bring stability and security to folks who have insurance and to help those who don't get the insurance they need. >> reporter: the president also seems ready, aides say, to throw in the towel on bi partisan negotiations in the senate finance committee. the past few days become spokesman against democratic
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efforts health care reform. including senator mike enzi. >> the democrats are trying to rush a bill through the process that will actually make our nations finances sicker without saving you money. >> reporter: the top republican on the senate finance committee, chuck grassley, in a fund-raising letter, asked for, quote, support in helping me defeat obama-care. the simple truth is that i am and always have been opposed to the administration's plans to nationalize health care. period. >> those were unfortunate comments. they didn't -- they weren't encouraging. >> reporter: spokesman for enzi and grassley say their bosses were not den ne grading the bill they'd be working on but other efforts in congress. but that explanation symbolizes the confusion that has hurt the president's push. >> but jake, you made the point in reporting this that is c congressional democrats have been pleading with the president to be more specific. but that gets dangerous if you are very specific. what is he willing to say? he is willing to say, i have to have this and that in this bill? >> rorter: they are still
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debating how specific, but the president will address nuts and bolts issues of what should be in the legislation, but they also agree that there is still a public education component of this, that they have not really fully realized. there's a lot of people in that do not understand what is in this bill for them, and what's not in it. the president intends to still discredit some of the myths out there abouthis reform effort. >> all right, jake tapper at the white house, that speech, again, a week from tonight. meanwhile, major news today about the world's largest drug maker, pfizer. the company agreed to pay $2.3 billion, that is the largest fine in history, and agreed to plead guilty to charges it illegally marketed some of his products for unapproved uses. here's lisa stark. >> reporter: bextra was approved to treat pain for arthritis, but pfizer had other ideas, pumping up its bottom line by pitching doctors to prescribe the drug for things it was never approved
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for, called off-label marketing. >> wheoff-label marketing like this occurs, patients' health and lives are put at risk, and those who cause that risk must be held accountable. >> reporter: bextra brought in $1.2 billion a year, as sales reps assured doctors it could be used not just for arthritis, but for any acute pain. the main whistle blower, a former company sales rep, said in a statement, at pfizer, i was expected to increase profits at all costs, even when sales meant endangering lives. i couldn't do that. in exchange for hearing company sales pitches, doctors were paid up to $1,500 to attend meetings, and were treated to conferences at lush resorts, given air fare, hotels, meals, even massages. >> their job was to help pfizer figure out how best to promote bextra for the off-label indications. >> reporter: and when used correctly, brex that was
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dangerous, linked to heart attacks and strokes, and pulled off the market. though it's a record punishment, pfizer has plenty of company. in the last eight years, drug manufacturers have paid over $11 billion in penalties, for everything from off-label promotions to overcharging medicare for drugs. >> there's so much money to be made in selling pills to the american public and advertising, and selling the latest, newest product, that people get crazy, and they cut corners, and they cheat, and they get caught. sometimes. >> reporter: and pfizer will now be required to reveal every penny it spends, pitching doc r doctors. some believe that should be required of all drug companies. charlie? >> lisa stark reporting from washington, thanks to you. in southern california today, firefighters made important headwayn othat o wildfire that hims nea forot hims near los angeles. so far the area coverers 218 square miles. that's roughly the size of san
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francisco. investigators say humans caused the fire, but have not said whether it was an accident. brian rooney is in tujunga canyon. brian? >> reporter: charlie, most of the fires in southern california are cacaused by humans. we don't have much dry lightning. it's a question if it's accident or arson. to get where we are at the moment, we drove up a canyon, three or four miles of burned out canyon walls. itit's really incredible, charl. and we came upon this cluster of old houses, and from the look of them, they were really beauties. in remote canyons, the losses are beginning toshow. shells of small homes, chill knees sticking up from smoking rubble, and wild life wandering through a landscape of ash. fire still burned high in the hills today, but a pall of smoke hanging over the burn zone was keeping firefighting aircraft on the ground. >> everybody needs to know that though we've gained some ground on this fire, we're not out of the woods yet. >> reporter: but much of the fire that is actually visible is
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being set by firefighters, controlled burns to clear out dry brush closest to endangeh d houses. the threat to the historic mt. wilson telescope and the cluster of broadcast towers that serves los angeles is easing. >> we had a few days that were touchy, but things are improving now and i'm very optimistic. >> reporter: helicopters and air mra planes have been critical, the choppers dropping water nearly in back yards, and fix-winged painting the mountains with retardant in advance of the fire. but one of the curiosities of this effort is a world war ii flying boat that has been converted for aerial firefighting. here's a wing's-eye view of a water drop from an ancient aircraft that is one of the most efficient performers. >> we're one of the loanwest co producers in the u.s. ste fo seservice arsenal. i mean, our average cost per llon is under $2. >> reporter: with fire beaten back from threatened neighborhoods, some residents are expected to go home later today.
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the signs of optimism are already appearing along streets saved by firefighters. the containment fig sure is 22%, which is a little low, but the weather's been favorable and i expect there will be a leap in that tomorrow morning. >> brian rooney, thank you, reporting from california again tonight. now to afghanistan. the state department is laching an investigation into charges made against guards that work at the u.s. embassy in kabul. an independent record says the guards who are not military personnel, engaged in hazing, sex parties and druggenness, jeopardizing security. our chief investigative correspondent brian ross is here now. >> reporter: charlie, one of the guards told abc news today that supervisors for the companies pressured employees to be what accounted to be drunken sex orgies if they wanted the best shifts at the embassy. >> disaster on this boggles the mind. >> reporter: this is home video of one of the scenes suitable
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for broadcast, taken by one of the guards in kabul and turned over to the project on government oversight. >> it's really a place where the super visors, in particular, have let things become wild and dangerous. >> reporter: one of the guards in kabul, a u.s. military veteran, told abc news that top bosses from armor group were, quote, sexual deviants, who have been carrying on this way for at least a year and a half, demanding sex from new arrivals. >> they knew what's what would get them where they needed to go here. you know, get promoted, to be a team leader, whatever. it was humiliating. >> reporter: earlier this summer, an executive of armor group's parent company testified the company was doing a good job. >> we are a company that prides itself in doing missions well. >> reporter: guards say company executives were well aware of the wild scene in kabul and took no steps to stop it. at times, afghan women were
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brought in for sex. >> in one case that we're aware of, there was a supervisor who had a birthday party, and was perfecy proud of announcing that he was bringing in prostitutes. >> reporter: the guard who spoke to abc news said the drunkenness and depravity, and the lord of the flips culture demanded by supervie sorps made it impossible to guarantee the security of the embassy. theres have been previous complaints about armor group, but the state department said it was unaware of these allegations until last week. as in iraq, the u.s. relies on such private contractors in afghanistan, and once again their performance and behavior has proven to be a huge embarrassment to this country. >> our chief investigative correspondent brian ross. one other note from afghanistan, just east of kabul, a suicide bomber killed the deputy chief of intelligence, a key figure in the country's security service. 22 others were also killed. the group had just ended a visit to a local mosque when the bomb exploded. and still ahead on "world
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